23rd Session of the Council of Europe Ministers of Education Conference
This theme reflects a major and constant preoccupation of UNESCO in its mission to promote culture of peace through quality education for all, fundamental in a democratic world. No region of the world is spared by the major challenges and diverse crises that affect our society today, the role of teachers is the research of durable solutions. This is why UNESCO rejoices that the very important Council of Europe has chosen to focus on this subject, on the future of a model social Europe, also on its responsibility toward the other regions of the world.
At their meeting in Ljubljana in Slovenia on 4 and 5 June 2010, the Ministers of Education of the 50 states parties to the European Cultural Convention were able to draw on the discussions at the 23rd conference to devise strategies for education and teacher training policies and thereby give direction to future Council of Europe action.
At the end of their delibarations, the participants to the 23rd Session of the Conference adopted the following texts:
- Declaration on the Conference Theme: "Education for Sustainable Democratic Societies: the Role of Teachers"
- Resolution on the Council of Europe’s Education Programme in the context of the current institutional reform
- Resolution on the enhancement of teachers’ professional development through the Pestalozzi Programme
At a time when the challenges facing European societies such as poverty and social exclusion are being exacerbated by the global economic crisis, it is clearly important for Council of Europe member states to seize the opportunities for new approaches presented by problems of this kind and take advantage of the benefits of 60 years of intergovernmental co-operation to tackle the various challenges in a sustainable manner.
In the field of education, the crisis raises questions about the types of societies which Europe wishes to develop and pass on to future generations. In this respect, the member states have already advocated a more humane and inclusive Europe, which was the main theme of the previous session held in Istanbul in 2007. But how can these aims of inclusion and humanity be achieved in practice? How can we build a socially sustainable society, based on the fundamental principles of respect for human rights, living together, equal opportunities for all and citizen participation? What part should education play in this debate?
Under the heading “Education for Sustainable Democratic Societies: the Role of Teachers”, the 23rd session of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education will be an opportunity to discuss these issues and consider the role of education and, more specifically, teachers, in finding common, viable and effective solutions to the challenges facing European societies at present, such as the increasing diversity of our societies.
Initial and in-service training of teachers will be the main focus of the conference and will be treated from a lifelong learning perspective. Particular emphasis will be placed on the competencies education professionals need in order to help build a sustainable democratic society where human rights play an integral part for peace and stability, on their professional development and on their responsibilities as members of co-operation networks and as agents of social change. Discussions will also address strategies to enhance the role and influence of the teaching profession within European societies.
At their meeting in Ljubljana in Slovenia on 4 and 5 June 2010, the Ministers of Education of the 50 states parties to the European Cultural Convention will therefore be able to draw on the discussions at the 23rd conference to devise strategies for education and teacher training policies and thereby give direction to future Council of Europe action.
The three strands of discussion will be considered in the following contributions, which will provide the basis for debate in the working group sessions.
TEACHER COMPETENCES FOR DIVERSE DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES
In order to manage and build on the increasing diversity of school environments, teachers must be equipped with multiple competences that go far beyond their academic subjects. With the aid of these transversal competences acquired during high-quality training suited to modern society, they must be able to foster in the learner community the skills needed to live together in a democratic society characterised by such diversity and to work for peace. The strategic importance of this issue in the process of building a sustainable democratic society is vital, given that pupils’ competences are closely linked to those of their teachers.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL RECOGNITION
If they are to help build a democratic society, teachers must receive support and their professional role must be recognised. However, it would seem that the standing of the teaching profession in general has declined over the years, which makes teachers’ work even more difficult than in the past. To restore the profession’s standing and provide teachers with all the tools they need to play their role as agents of change, the issues of professional development need to be looked at seriously, along with those of teachers’ working conditions, their participation in decision-making processes and their recruitment, which should reflect the diversity of society.
PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKING IN EDUCATION
In the field of education, ongoing and co-ordinated co-operation between the various sectors of society and the different tiers of education can help build a sustainable democratic society. In this respect, teachers should be trained in order to facilitate the creation of partnerships and the maintenance of networks. Many forms of partnerships are possible, depending on institutional and local contexts. However, even if teachers are central actors in the creation and the maintenance of these partnerships, these tasks must be endorsed by all the social actors concerned from the point of view of shared responsibility.